Revised: Development Sites Permitting Guidelines

All applications for Land Use and Construction permits need to be reviewed by staff with expertise in various Seattle codes. It is important for all staff to review each project using the same property boundaries, known as a “development site.” This is important to properly conform to code requirements, to provide consistency to applicants and the public, and to allow property records to be easily accessible.

Most of our codes, including the land use, building, fire, electrical and drainage codes, are based on the concept of having a “development site,” though these codes call it something else. For instance the Electrical Code calls out a “premise,” the Fire Code calls out a “site,” and the Building Code calls out a “lot.”

A development site is a piece of land within the boundaries of which we apply all the development standards for the land use, building and electrical code (at a minimum). The development site concept is not new; it has been the standard for evaluating proposed projects for decades.

A development site may already exist, or you may create one through our platting or building permit process. You must have an existing development site before you can submit your permit or early design guidance application.

  • (The following was revised from the original article published in April.) If you are going to create or reconfigure a development site through a subdivision or lot boundary adjustment process, you may submit your building and land use permit applications for the proposed development sites after we have accepted your platting action. Your subsequent permit application plans must show only the proposed development site, and must show how you will meet all code requirements within the proposed development site.  Your platting action must be issued before we issue your building or land use permit for the proposed development site.
  • If you are creating a development site through a platting process, that plat must be recorded before you can submit any additional platting actions.
  • Seattle DCI requires that all platting actions go through our Pre-Application Tool process. The Pre-Application Tool allows all reviewers to evaluate permitting requirements for the new proposed development site. (If we have conducted a pre-application site visit (PASV) covering the entire site within 18 months of your platting application, a new PASV will not be necessary.)
  • If you will further subdivide your development site into 9 or more parcels of land for individual sale, you will go through the full subdivision process.


You should contact the utilities early on to ensure that you have designed your final development site with adequate space for utility access.

If you are proposing a site for the development of live/work units, Seattle DCI may apply development standards to the larger parcel before the platting of the units for individual sale. In most cases, you can subsequently divide development sites with live/work units by a short or full subdivision process to allow future sale of individual units. However, the entire property will still be considered one development site. These subsequent subdivisions may require a binding site covenant or other means to clarify the relationship of each owner to the larger development site. For more information, contact our Development Site Control team at